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Jersey Shore Rental Listings Surge to Record

Out of the blue: a New Jersey home damaged by Superstorm Sandy
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Out of the blue: a New Jersey home damaged by Superstorm Sandy

Less than four months after super storm Sandy tore through prime vacation destinations at the Jersey shore, homeowners are advertising their seasonal rental properties in record numbers, according to HomeAway.com CEO Brian Sharples.

Jersey Shore listings on the global vacation home site jumped 259 percent — an all-time record for the area — versus last year at this time, Sharples told CNBC.

"The thing that is shocking to me is the increase in properties, which is enormous," Sharples said. "This means that those homeowners are a little more concerned about renting their homes, so they are spending money on marketing to do so."

While inquiries year-over-year in the region on HomeAway are down an average of 22 percent, they're surging in other East Coast vacation hot spots. Virginia Beach, Va., is up 147 percent, Myrtle Beach, S.C., is up 50 percent and Ocean City, Md. spiked 50 percent.

(Read More: Six Lessons From Small Businesses Damaged by Super Storm Sandy)

"If the number of properties is doubling and demand is down, then there are probably some great values at the Jersey shore this season," Sharples said.

But, those good values could come at a cost.

He cautioned there really is no way to know if owners in Sandy damaged towns will have their homes ready in time. The site offers special insurance to its travelers against fraud and misrepresentation. It also encourages customers to submit and read rental property reviews.

"Sandy Survivor" home listed on Homeaway.com
Source: homeaway.com
"Sandy Survivor" home listed on Homeaway.com

There also is another concern for vacationers at the shore. If the boardwalk, restaurants and bars are closed, there may not be as much to do.

That's a factor playing into 26-year-old Stephanie Carchia's decision to secure a share house for her first-time ever in the Hamptons this year. The hedge fund trading assistant is paying a lot more for it than she did at the Jersey Shore — her summer spot for years.

"I figured it wouldn't be the same this year. I was worried there wouldn't be as many people," Carchia said.

Others are sticking with their yearly shore plan.

Jennifer Luongo, 28-year-old advertising account executive, and 13 of her friends have signed a summer lease for a house in Manasquan, N.J.

"I am hopeful things will be as close to back to normal as possible," Luongo said. "I am concerned that there is the possibility that places that my friends and I like to go to won't be ready by summer, but we are all just staying positive."

Dozens of beachfront homes were destroyed or heavily damaged and 60 percent of the homes had water damage in Manasquan. Tourist attractions were compromised, too. A quarter of Manasquan's boardwalk was lost during the storm. (Read More: Scenes from Hurricane Sandy)

But Mayor George Dempsey told CNBC the boardwalk should be repaired by summer, and businesses such as Leggetts Sand Bar and the Riverside Cafe are expected to be up and running by Memorial Day. In fact, Leggetts is eyeing a March 1 "grand re-opening," according to its website. The beach-front bar and restaurant was filled with water and sand during the storm.

The borough will be "ready for business," Dempsey said.

-By CNBC's Stephanie Landsman; Follow her on Twitter @StephLandsman.

Questions? Comments? Email us at consumernation@cnbc.com.

  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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